Report from Andy Flint on the Dartmoor Demon with Andrew Hunt

The Dartmoor Demon lived up to its name - weather was awful - almost biblical and yes, similar to Ride London, but with visibility of 30 feet and hills galore - and I mean hills!  20 and 25% and long... at 20%... continuously!!  Walk of shame on more than one occasion for me - I need a 32 on the rear like Mr Hunt, well that is my excuse! I also had the pleasure of a puncture going downhill (serious down!) and then found myself changing my tyre with the company of a cow... or was it a bull? It was huge and roaming around on the road as I later found out from a passing motorist it had wandered off the moor ("ere... nothing to worry about)!!  We 'only' did the standard route (55 miles) as recommended by the organisers, but 5 hours of that was more than enough!


For good measure Mr Hunt took me on a 'recovery ride' the following day (I think he wanted to get in the extra miles we'd missed the day before) to view Dartmoor Prison!  We got a glimpse (depressing!) and also got very wet.. again!  We did 2500+ feet of climbing in just 30 miles - they like their hills in Devon!
So even though we didn't do the epic route the whole weekend was basically epic!
Uncle Kirk (Alderson) was well.  He arrived back from Mallorca on the Sunday afternoon, so we met up for a well earned (by us) pizza before we departed Plymouth and returned to Herts. Good fun!!

Report by Andy Flint

The Lionheart has established itself as a favoured early season sportive with a growing following. Established by an inventive bunch of cyclists and now organised by Humanrace, The Lionheart enjoys the splendour of Longleat Estate as the start and finish point.  Offering both 100 mile and 100km routes, I was joined by Kirk Alderson to take on the 100miles - we decided this was a great opportunity to meet up and ride, given it is approximately at the half-way point between St Albans and Plymouth where Kirk now lives - "I'm retired now" was an oft repeated phrase - something he is clearly enjoying!

The course is tough, with approx. 6,500 feet in total of ascent; the particularly tough bit being over 5,500 of that comes in the first 50 miles!  It was topped out by a closed road section, timed hill climb.  I arrived at the timing start thinking I was at the end and proceeded to endure the walk of shame!  Kirk ground out the full ascent - fair play!  My only 'excuse being that I was on my winter bike, with a 27 rear, whilst Kirk had opted for the summer bike with a 32 rear - making his spin to the top slightly less challenging (in my humble...)!

The whole 100 miles is set in what is a fantastically scenic corner of South West England. It certainly lives up to its billing - "a characterful cycling terrain make no mistake!"

Kirk and I enjoyed a challenging and memorable day.

Report by Andy Whitaker

Marshalswick: A small but dedicated group of five gathered for some off-road action on local trails north of St Albans. The 21 mile route was picked to avoid the worst of the muck, but inevitably for February it was a fairly filthy outing.  Up Jersey Lane and through Sandridge we picked up the main bridleway through Heartwood Forest, though the descent halfway along was taken at a careful pace to avoid the participants of a hedge-laying competition and their tools! At Harpenden Common we turned right down Mud Lane, which of course lived-up to its name. Nomansland is always a pleasure to ride, it's well-drained soils giving some welcome respite from the clag. Down Dyke Lane and on up to the Ayot Greenway, we headed east before a stop to get some video footage of young Jim, who needed proof of his off-road endeavours for his GCSE PE coursework. After a few circuits of climbing and descending greasy banks we continued east for a final filming stop to capture some step descents. A tarmac interlude delivered us towards Ayot St Lawrence and some twisty singletrack fun, before mudplugging our way back southward to Waterend Lane. Knowing the likely state of Bunyan Gulley we stuck to the tarmac for the ascent to Coleman Green, with some back-lane spinning and woodland blasts delivering us back to the outskirts of St Albans.

It's always tempting to look toward Summer warmth and dry trails, but there's a lot of fun and satisfaction to be had from riding off-road through the winter. Definitely a great way to build bike handling skills and the soft ground requires constant effort, making for a good work-out.